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Freiburg: Regional citizens’ council presents recommendations for the expansion of renewable energies in the Freiburg region – first cross-community citizens’ council in Germany

The first cross-community citizens’ council in Germany presents 48 recommendations on how the expansion of renewable energies in the Freiburg region can be significantly increased. 91 randomly drawn citizens took part in the climate citizens’ council in the Freiburg region (KBR).
The expansion of renewable energies has become the topic of the year 2022. Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, heat waves in Germany and now floods of the century in Pakistan make the urgency for action unmistakable. At the same time, quick decisions must be made, especially when it comes to climate protection. So is this the right field for citizens’ councils? “Yes” says the Freiburg region. By municipal council decision, 15 municipalities from the Emmendingen and Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald districts and the city of Freiburg decided last autumn to commission one
Citizens Council on the subject of “100% renewable energies”.
On September 20, Germany’s first intermunicipal citizens’ council presented its recommendations to the political decision-makers.

De-bureaucratic approval procedures for wind turbines

For the wind power field of action, the citizens recommend the immediate use of all areas designated as wind farms in the Baden-Württemberg wind atlas for the construction of wind turbines. In addition, the
Municipalities in the region are called upon to use all the opportunities available to them to influence legislation at state and federal level in order to speed up approval processes for the expansion of renewables. Because while the construction of wind turbines is a common wish in large parts of politics, it usually fails due to the many years of bureaucratic approval procedures.

Use sealed areas for solar energy

In the field of solar on open spaces, the municipal, regional, district and state level is requested to immediately check any sealed open space for suitability for solar power generation. All faces, on
which this is possible should be used. The citizens’ council participants also demand that industrial waste heat be used by means of district heating for nearby residential areas and other energy consumers. In addition, energy-plus standards are to be aimed for in future buildings in the region. More energy is generated on the building by using the sun’s energy than is obtained from outside in the form of electricity, gas, heating oil or wood fuel.

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“Basic democratic formats”

A suitable transfer of knowledge should form the framework for the expansion of renewable energies in the region. The citizens’ council members recommend that the municipalities use analogue and digital information and
Create discussion channels. The transfer of knowledge and exchange of experience with the goal of 100% renewable
Energy by 2030 should be made possible in this way. The participants of the climate citizens’ council recommend the “establishment of grassroots democratic formats to obtain opinions and recommendations” and refer to loose citizens’ councils.

break up filter bubbles

The Climate Citizens’ Council consisted of residents of the 16 municipalities participating in the Citizens’ Council. The participants came together in five sessions from May to July 2022. The council was initiated by the “Initiative Climate Citizens: Inner Council Region Freiburg” of the same name. The Alliance for Value-Oriented Democracy (AllWeDo eV) was responsible for implementation and organization, while the moderator and participation expert Marina Leibfried took on the conceptual management. 4,000 residents of the 16 participating municipalities happened to be aware of the
Residents’ registers of the communities were drawn and invited to apply to participate in the Citizens’ Council. So everyone had the chance to be drawn to participate. Based on the applications received, AllWeDo invited 91 people to take part who represented the population of Baden-Württemberg as best as possible in terms of age, gender, educational background and migration background. The format of the citizens’ council is intended to create filter bubbles
to be broken up. People who would otherwise probably not meet meet in the Citizens’ Council. The diverse composition of people with very different CVs brings many perspectives into the process, which means that creative solutions can emerge and, on the other hand, blind spots can also be addressed.

Lectures by experts

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The participating citizens were introduced to the topic of energy transition in 25 lectures by experts. This was followed by moderated discussions in small groups about what had been heard. The subjects discussed were “Solar on and on buildings”, “Solar on open spaces”, “Wind power”, “Energy saving” and “Other renewable energies” such as hydroelectric power, biomass and geothermal energy. Overarching cross-cutting issues such as skilled workers, communication and organizational forms of the energy transition,
such as citizen cooperatives, were illuminated. A broad advisory board accompanied the process and suggested the experts. Marina Leibfried is convinced that this has made a decisive contribution to the quality of the process: “Many people have contributed to making the Citizens’ Council good. The participants could also ask for expert input.”

Results are presented in local councils

In the coming months, the participants in the Climate Citizens’ Council will present the results of their deliberations in the municipal council meetings of all 16 participating municipalities. However, the procedure does not end with the presentation of the Citizens Council’s recommendations for action. A strategy group is to meet before the end of the year in order to strengthen inter-municipal cooperation in implementing the recommendations and to plan further steps. Each municipality should send one or two representatives to the strategy meeting. In addition, so-called citizen cafés are to take place, in which an exchange between
Citizenship and municipal councils should take place. As part of the strategy group and the citizen cafés, implementation options and challenges are to be identified and tackled in the region.

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First cross-community climate citizens’ council in Germany

The climate citizens’ council in the Freiburg region is the first in Germany and the fourth internationally across municipalities. On May 24, 2022, the regional council of nine municipalities
existing French municipal association Est Ensemble adopted and adopted numerous recommendations from the local climate citizens’ council. The French Citizens Council had from September 2021 to
held in January 2022. 100 randomly drawn citizens from the region met over five weekends to propose concrete measures to combat climate change. 208 of the 220 proposals submitted by the citizens’ council were accepted by the regional council. After investing a lot of time, the participants of the climate citizens’ council of the Freiburg region are now hoping that their work will lead to the implementation of the 48 recommendations. For many of them, participation in the Climate Citizens’ Council was their first political engagement.

(Project team climate citizens: inner council region Freiburg | 22.09.2022)

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